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More Evidence of US Coalition Killing Civilians in Syria, and Using White Phosphorus

Steven Sahiounie
21st Century Wire

Civilians in Syria are dying, and being maimed by the actions of the US military, and their allied partners. Despite mounting evidence of international war crimes, the western media has adopted a near unanimous policy of silence.

The Americans, and their 70 participating ‘coalition’ allies, are supposedly targeting the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group. However, in the course of their air strikes, civilians living in homes with families are being killed, persons maimed, and made homeless.  As the freezing temperatures of the Eastern Syrian desert drop daily, so do the US made bombs, including munitions containing the banned chemical weapon white phosphorus. All us this is making life unbearable for thousands of families caught in the middle of this US geopolitical power-play.

The US-led Airstrikes

Nov. 21, 2018: In the latest US-led coalition airstrikes in Eastern Syria, white phosphorus bombs were dropped on the town of Hajin, 110 kilometers east of Deir ez-Zor.  This is a pattern of attacking the same location repeatedly, with the same banned weapons. Coalition officials reported a total of 19 airstrikes during a three-hour period near Hajin and surrounding areas.

Nov. 17, 2018: Approximately 40 people, mostly women and children, were killed by US-led airstrikes on Abu al-Husn village, near the town of Hajin.

Nov. 13, 2018: 43 people were killed, by US-led coalition airstrikes in the eastern village of Abu al-Husn, including 36 members of one extended family.

Oct. 19, 2018: The villages of al-Sousa and al-Bubadran in Deir ez-Zor were targeted, killing 62 civilians, mostly women and children. The US-led airstrikes also injured an unidentified number of others.

Oct. 13, and Sept. 8, 2018: The US-led coalition conducted airstrikes on Hajin, using white phosphorus bombs.

Note: these are only a select few of a larger pool of documented US attacks in Syria.

Observers report that civilians are prevented from leaving the area by ISIS.  The civilian death toll is due in part to the fact they are hostages in their own homes; however, the US-led coalition is acting against international law by targeting known civilian areas, and especially for using white phosphorus in an area populated by civilians.

In addition these reports, the Washington Post, a paper of record which normally steer clear of criticizing US actions, much less exposing any serious war crimes committed overseas, actually reported in 2017 on the fact that US-led forces appear to have used the banned chemical weapon white phosphorus in populated areas in Iraq and Syria.

Death Toll from US Attacks

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British based monitoring group, said airstrikes have killed 3,331 civilians, including 826 children and 615 women, in the 4 years of US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria.

The US-led coalition began military operations in 2014 in a stated effort to eradicate ISIS. According Airwars, an independent investigative group, the numbers are even higher, with estimates said to be at least 4,300 civilians who have been killed by the US-led coalition in Syria.

The US-led coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq since it intervened against IS in 2014.  However, they deny the current reports of numbers, when added up weekly are approaching a civilian massacre. The US military war machine seemingly operates under the motto: “You have to break a few eggs to make a cake”. The popular euphemism used by the Pentagon to gloss-over the killing of innocent civilians is commonly known as “collateral damage,” a kind of politically correct lexicon custom-made for the US military adventurism overseas.

Boots on the Ground in Syria

The Syrian Arab Army, which is a national army made up of both commissioned officers and conscripted soldiers for military duty, comprises the largest ground force in the country, and they also have an airforce.  Their targets are ISIS, and armed terrorist groups affiliated with ISIS, and Al-Qaeda. They work in conjunction with the Russian Air Force, currently based near Latakia, conducts airstrikes against ISIS, and terrorist groups affiliated with ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  They operate under formal invitation by Syria.

The US-led coalition, consisting of 70 countries participating, is mainly airforce, but also has some 2,000 plus ground forces occupying bases erected in northeast Syria – in violation of international law.  They target IS, and occasionally target the Syrian Arab Army.  They operate illegally, as they are occupying land in Syria, in contravention of international law.

The  Syrian Democratic Forces, (SDF), which are a Kurdish paramilitary force, considered an ally of the US, but as armed terrorists by Turkey, and an enemy.  The SDF are fully trained and supported by USA, in direct opposition to Turkey, who is a NATO member, and had thought itself to be an US ally.

The Turkish Army is occupying large sections of Syria’s Idlib province along the Northern Syrian border area just west of Aleppo. Turkey’s occupation is also are contravention of international law.  They target the US supported Kurdish SDF-YPG forces, who they consider terrorists, aligned with the Kurdish PKK, an internationally recognized terrorist group. Pres. Erdogan is the leader of the AKP party, which has a Muslim Brotherhood-supported political platform.  He and his ruling party are therefore sympathetic to the radical Islamic fighters who are holding the civilian population of Idlib hostage. If Turkey were to withdraw its support and protection of these terrorist factions entrenched in Idlib, it is believed they would disband or collapse within a matter of months.

The Islamic State, or ‘ISIS’ is a terrorist group consisting of fighters from various countries around the world, including US-NATO countries, and the US allied countries of the Arab Gulf monarchies.  They hold very little land in Syria; mainly they hold the land surrounding the US-led coalition base at Al-Tanf, begging the question of what is the operational agreement between the IS and the US-led coalition.

Overview of US-NATO Objectives in Syria

Initially, the main objective of the US and its numerous ‘coalition’ partners was to overthrow the elected President of Syria, Bashar al Assad. US does not recognize that Assad was elected by popular vote in a multi-party election in June 2014, garnering approximately 88% of the vote. According to Ben Rhodes, the chief advisor to Pres. Obama, the architect of the attack on Syria beginning in 2011, the US thought Assad would leave as soon as they threatened him early on in 2012-2013. This was a major miscalculation on the part of the US-NATO Axis powers, and no doubt contributed to Obama doubling-down on Washington’s continued lethal aid including a CIA-Saudi joint program for large-scale illegal weapons trafficking operations to numerous “rebel” terrorist factions between 2012 and 2016.

Furthermore, they want to manipulate a new election, similar to how the US manipulated the Egyptian election of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidate Mohamed Mursi. By instituting an Islamist President of Syria, the US would be acknowledging the soldiers who fought on the US side during the Syrian conflict, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), who were the political arm in Istanbul, and overwhelmingly MB members.  The FSA was never based on solely on secular democratic ideals, but rather was always manned by Sunni extremist fighters, who at first were ethnically Syrian, but later were morphed into an international “melting-pot” of Jihadists from around the world.

The overriding paramount objective for the US is to protect the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and Palestine. Certainly under Barack Obama, it it believed that Washington would back an Islamist leader in Syria, whom they would believe could be peaceful relations with the Israeli occupation, as Israel and Saudi Arabia are already allied and working closely together toward common regional goals. Their common goal is to stop Iran from exerting influence in the Middle East.

Curtailing the resistance to the occupation of Palestine movement in Syria is also a key to the plan. In addition, it is imperative for the US and Israel to somehow cut off the flow of support and weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is an armed resistance organization. Hezbollah would be effectively cut off from land routes to Iran, its main supplier – which would give Israel a free hand to attack its neighbors and continue its brutal 70 year occupation of Palestine.

The end goal is to cut the ties between Iran and Syria, by transforming Syria into a Sunni Muslim state backed by Gulf interests, rather than the current secular pluralist government.  The new US-backed state would then regard Iran as an enemy, as does Israel and Saudi Arabia. Gone would be the resistance movement and the flow of support and weapons from Iran to Hezbollah, via land and air routes in Syria.

Despite it’s fabricated pretense of “fighting ISIS”, the current illegal US occupation of Northeastern Syria has three main objectives:

1. Together with its SDF proxies, occupy Syria’s main oil and gas fields in order to deprive Damascus of energy and income to help hasten its economic demise, essentially strangling the country economically in conjunction with the current embargo and sanctions. It is the US belief than a policy of collective punishment of the Syrian population will encourage residents to “rise up” and overthrown the Assad government. This is also the identical US strategy for both Iran and Venezuela.

2. The lay the groundwork for the formation of an autonomous Kurdish ethno-state, similar to Kosovo, which would be an US protectorate.

3. Maintain operational control the Syria-Iraq border in order to impede any Iranian or Iran-friendly factions from crossing this border to assist Syria. Perhaps not by coincidence, this US policy has also allowed ISIS to re-infest border regions of Syria and Iraq.

The US appears determined to maintain its hold over what is effectively 33% of the Syrian territorial land.

Syrian and Russian Objectives in Syria

The first Syrian objective is to retain all Syrian territory, within recognized borders and to not allow for the loss, occupation, or annexation of any Syrian land.  Secondly, to remain a secular form of government, under a Syrian ratified constitution, with multiple parties, and prohibiting any religious parties.  Thirdly, to protect all Syrian citizens and residents, this includes Palestinian refugees, and Iraqi refugees, from any attacks or occupation by any enemy, both foreign and domestic.

The Russian objective is to stop the armed fighters following Radical Islam in Syria; knowing that many are from countries in or very near to Russia, such as the former Soviet provinces in Central Asia, which are populated by Muslims.  Pres. Putin’s motto is: either stop them in Syria, or face fighting them on the streets of Moscow.  Secondly, Russia is supporting Syria and international law, which allows the citizens of every country to determine their own leadership, rather than to have foreign countries, such as USA and their allies, to depose of an elected leader.  Thirdly, Russia is protecting their Naval base in Syria, which has existed for 40 years, and is acting as a counter-balance to USA.

Turkish Objective in Syria

The Turkish objective in Syria is to neutralize the Kurdish armed fighters, called SDF, which is supported fully by US-NATO, but which are considered armed terrorists by Turkey.  It is a nightmare for Turkey to witness on their Southern border, a long-standing ally, and fellow NATO member, supporting and arming an ethnic group who have terrorized Turkey for decades, and have been responsible for thousands of deaths and maiming of Turkish citizens.  Secondly, the Turkish President Erdogan was an important partner in the US-NATO- GULF attack on Syria.  Turkey shares the US-NATO-GULF objective to overthrow the elected secular government of Syria, in order to establish a Sunni Muslim state, which would be natually aligned with the AKP Party, the Islamist ruling party in Turkey.

Can Objectives be Realized?

The Syrian President did not leave office in the Arab Spring of 2011.  Instead, he was re-elected under a new constitution in 2014.  In October 2015 the Russian military arrived to support Syria, and to stop the advance of armed Radical Islam.  The Syrian objectives are close to being realized, as the majority of Syrian territory is now at peace, and under the control of the government.

Russia continues to act as a counter-weight to the American “policeman of the world” self-image.  Besides protecting their decades old Naval Base at Tartous, they were able to establish an Air Base on the coast, near Latakia.

The US-NATO-Gulf objectives have come up short; however, they have made the supply chain land route more difficult by positioning an US military base inside a pocket occupied by the Islamic State, at Al Tanf.  However, this is problematic, as it is increasingly more difficult for the military commanders there, and their superiors in the Pentagon, to explain why American troops and commanders are able to be safe living surrounded by the Islamic State, who they supposedly were tasked to exterminate.

Turkish objectives are yet to be realized, as their American ally continues to back the Turkish enemy.  Turkey will have to leave Idlib at some point, and pull back from the Syrian border, while re-establishing trade and diplomatic ties with Syria.  The Turkish economy is in ruins, and may take decades to rebuild.  President Trump has chosen to defend an accused murderer, who will never have to answer for his alleged actions in a murder which took place in Turkey.  The alleged Khashoggi murder in Istanbul has pitted Pres. Erdogan on one side, against Pres. Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on the other.  The Turkish people are viewing USA and Saudi Arabia with suspicion and possibly as the enemy, instead of their loyal partners of previous years.

Chance for Peace

Peace would seem an elusive outcome in Syria.  Two superpowers jockey for position, while civilians dying in Eastern Syria are overlooked in the barrage of human suffering.

At some point, the hostilities have to end. So the question remains: will the US, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia allow it?

***

21WIRE Special Contributor Steven Sahiounie is an American citizen born in Fresno, California.  He has been living permanently in Latakia, Syria, which was his father’s original hometown.  Steven is a freelance journalist specialising in Syrian affairs, and a university student studying English Literature. See more of Steven’s featured work here.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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